Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bates Comes Back to Beat Bowdoin

Defensive end Tyler Kuehl's interception and 25-yard return for a touchdown gave Bates College its first lead of the game with 9:39 left in the fourth quarter, and the Bobcats went on to win 28-24 over Bowdoin, the Bobcats' first win over their in-state rivals since 2003.

Bates' first win of the year puts the Bobcats at 1-6, while Bowdoin drops to 2-5. Both teams will need Bowdoin to defeat Colby next week in order to claim a share of the CBB title.

Under pressure from defensive tackle Devin Horvath, backup quarterback R.J. Shea's pass on 3rd and 9 from the Bowdoin 31 was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Kuehl, and the 6-3, 255-pound lineman gathered the ball and rumbled 25 yards across the field for the go-ahead score, only a minute after the Bobcats had closed the gap to 24-21 on Matt Gregg's 23-yard touchdown reception.

Bowdoin got the ball back twice before the game was through. First the Polar Bears marched from their own 38 all the way to the Bates 1-yard line but were stuffed in a goal-line stand by the Bobcats, ending a 13-play, 59-yard drive with 4:08 left in the game.

With Bates taking over at its own 3, Bowdoin forced a three-and-out, and the Polar Bears took the ball over at the Bates 26 when Pat Noone returned a 33-yard Gavin Segall-Abrams punt 12 yards. An 11-yard strike from Shea to Justin Starr helped Bowdoin get as far as the Bates 11, but on 3rd and 6, with 73 seconds left in the game, Brett McAllister picked off Shea's pass in the back of the end zone to preserve the win.

Shea took over for Bowdoin's star senior quarterback, Oliver Kell, after Kell was injured on a quarterback keeper at the start of the third quarter. The 6-5 sophomore Shea, who entered the game with zero pass attempts in his career, completed 10 of 23 passes for 97 yards in the second half. Kell was 10 of 15 for 75 yards and one interception. Both quarterbacks rushed for touchdowns, with Shea netting 23 rushing yards and Kell netting 17. Nick Tom rushed for a game-high 73 yards as Bowdoin was limited to 293 yards of offense to 330 for Bates.

For Bates, rookie quarterback Trevor Smith was outstanding again in his second career start, completing 21 of 31 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns and also rushing for a team-high 29 yards, leading Bates to victory despite throwing three interceptions. The Bobcats overcame four turnovers, including one on each of their first three possessions of the game. Last week at Colby, Smith set two Bates single-game passing records in his first career start, with 31 completions and 361 passing yards.

Senior Tom Beaton led Bates receivers with his second straight monster game, catching nine passes for a career-high 152 yards and a score, a week after posting career receiving highs with 10 catches and 121 yards. Beaton caught a 58-yard touchdown with 7:37 left in the third quarter on a flea-flicker to begin to turn the game's momentum toward Bates. Smith handed off to running back Dylan Taylor on the play, but Taylor pitched back to Smith, who launched the ball over 40 yards to a wide-open Beaton downfield, and Beaton ran the final 25 yards for the score that closed the gap to 17-14.

The play was the first from the line of scrimmage for Bates after Shea's 1-yard touchdown plunge capped a 15-play, 76-yard scoring drive.

Bowdoin seized back the momentum early in the fourth quarter when Matt Leotti stepped in front of a Smith pass and ran 58 yards down the sideline for a touchdown with 12:36 left in the game, giving Bowdoin a 24-14 lead. But Bates responded quickly, starting out its next drive at its own 48, advancing 15 yards on a Bowdoin face mask penalty, 11 more on an 11-yard sideline catch by Evan Tierney, and closing the game to 24-21 with 10:44 left in the game when Smith hit senior Matt Gregg in stride near the left pylon for a 23-yard touchdown.

As Bates opened the game with three turnovers on its first three possessions, the Polar Bears converted them into 10 points. Smith was intercepted on the first play from scrimmage of the game, when his pass to Gregg was bobbled and snatched out of the air by Bobby Welch, who returned the ball back 39 yards to the Bates 32. Kell immediately hit Tom for 21 yards, and then a 9-yard jaunt by Tom quickly had the Polar Bears at the Bates 2. Kell scored on a 1-yard keeper two plays later.

Welch caused a second turnover on Bates' second possession, forcing and recovering a fumble by Taylor. After a three-and-out by Bowdoin, Bates drove from its own 27 to the Bowdoin 13, thanks in great part to 11- and 20-yard catches by Beaton. But on 2nd and 7 at the 13, Smith was picked off in the end zone by a diving Will McIver. Bowdoin drove 71 yards inside the Bates 10 before settling for a 26-yard field goal by Bill Donahue, and the Polar Bears had a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Bates responded in good measure, however, as Cam Evans leaped for an athletic interception to give the Bobcats the ball at their own 43. Smith hit receiver John Squires with a laser over the middle that went for 29 yards, and later an 11-yard connection with Beaton gave Bates a first down at the Bowdoin 15. Three plays later, on third down and 4, Smith hit H-back Ryan Weston, and the 6-5, 260-pound sophomore plowed into the end zone for a 9-yard score, closing the gap to 10-7 before halftime.

Laurence Duggan made a team-high 10 tackles, including two quarterback sacks and two quarterback hurries, to lead the Bowdoin defense. For Bates, Ted Durkin and Kevin Helm had 12 tackles apiece, while Brett McAllister added 11 to go with the key interception. Linemen Rich McNeil and Devin Horvath totaled nine and eight tackles, respectively.

Bates plays at Hamilton next week at noon in the season finale, while Bowdoin hosts Colby at 12:30 p.m.

Box Score and Stats

Courtesy Bates Athletics



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